Delegates Reunite in Hong Kong for the Final Leg of the Conference
All delegates left early Thursday morning from their respective locations in Guangzhou and Shenzhen to travel by bus to Hong Kong, the final destination for the 2016 conference. Unlike the trip from Shenzhen to Guangzhou, which was in the evening, the morning bus rides to Hong Kong gave delegates the opportunity to experience the all-encompassing urbanization of the Pearl River Delta in the daytime as well as traversing the border crossing between Mainland China and Hong Kong (a Special Administrative Region).
Upon arriving in Hong Kong, delegates were taken to the International Commerce Centre (ICC), the location of the Ritz Carlton Hong Kong and the conference venue for the city.
Plenary 6 Focuses on Hong Kong’s Unique Urban DevelopmentDay Four of the conference began in earnest on the afternoon of October 20, with a plenary session entitled “Hong Kong Developments” held in the Sky100 observation space of the ICC. Three in-depth presentations anchored the session, starting with Hong Kong’s Under Secretary for Development, Eric Ma, who detailed the history of skyscrapers in Hong Kong as well as the role that the local government plays in facilitating urban growth. Following Ma’s presentation, Tony Tang of Sun Hung Kai Properties discussed ICC within the context of Hong Kong’s future growth. As Architect and Project Director of ICC, Tang was well-positioned to offer insightful commentary on the role that ICC has played and will continue to play in shaping Hong Kong and more specifically, the West Kowloon Cultural District, a nascent mixed-use hub anchored by the tower and Kowloon Station. Delegates were then treated to a thorough examination of the cultural district with a presentation by Duncan Pescod, CEO of the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority. The hub provided an excellent case study that distilled the recurring themes of the conference. As a transit-oriented, programmatically diverse master plan that, while not inherently tall in its planned and under-construction buildings, represented an ideal example of how strong planning can work in tandem with a high-rise district to create a socially vibrant urban community. Pescod offered, “Placemaking as we see it has to be a multi-faceted approach. To the planning, design, and management of public space, it must enrich the quality of the city. It’s about fostering communities; it’s about supporting the local economy; it’s about attracting new business. Most important to my mind we can contribute to the government objectives in public health, and of course, civic engagement.”
Technical and Social Issues at the Forefront in Plenary 7After a brief coffee break, delegates reconvened in the Sky100 observation space for the second session of the afternoon and the conference’s seventh plenary session. Focusing on technical and social issues, this session featured a diverse line-up of topics, with Carol Willis, Founding Director, The Skyscraper Museum, starting things off with a presentation on the slender tower phenomenon that has proliferated around the globe. Both technical and social in nature, Willis’ presentation explored how the slender tower typology differs depending on location, observing the market forces that are shaping the development of such towers. In response to the tendency for the media and others to use only the tallest buildings in a city as indicators of societal issues and urban trends, Willis issued a challenge to those in the room: to look at the city as a comprehensive whole so that we might catalyze a much richer dialogue on place. She said, “I would encourage the CTBUH to think more about floor area and less about vertical height and bring a much fuller analysis to the urban condition, on urban economics, and urban psychology that we all identify with.” Next, Ada Y.S. Fung, Deputy Director of the Hong Kong Housing Authority, presented on the history of public housing in Hong Kong as well as the design qualities that the authority promotes in their projects, such as acoustic balconies and windows to prevent noise pollution. Fung’s presentation highlighted the significant role that public housing plays in shaping Hong Kong and providing residents with adequate housing at a reasonable price, while offering policies that can be replicated by authorities elsewhere. The final presentation of Day Four focused on challenges of height when dealing with fire and safety evacuations. Kwok-Chung Choi, of the Hong Kong Fire Services Department, detailed how his High Angle Rescue Team approaches fire events in tall buildings throughout the city, while noting areas in which developers, architects, and fire professionals can work in closer coordination to advance flexible safety standards.
ICC Networking Session Caps-Off Day Four Programming
That evening, attendees of the ICC networking reception, kindly hosted by Sun Hung Kai Properties and sponsored by Schindler, returned to the Sky100 Observation Space, which had been transformed from a forum for discussion into a swanky event space. Warm welcomes were offered by Mike Wong, Deputy Managing Director, Sun Hung Kai Properties and Jujudhan Jena, President, Jardine Schindler Group, Schindler. Over refreshments and hors d’oeuvres, delegates took in the Hong Kong skyline while debating convivially the themes of the conference and discussing their own experiences throughout the week.
Scenes from the Day